New Delhi: New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV), which owns Hindi-language news channel NDTV India, on Monday moved the Supreme Court against a one-day blackout order given by the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry four days ago.
On 3 November, I&B ministry had asked NDTV India to go-off air for a day on 9 November for revealing ‘sensitive details’ on the 2 January Pathankot terrorist attack.
According to a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), NDTV has filed a written petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the order and “the provisions of law pursuant to which the said order has purportedly been passed”.
An inter-ministerial committee set up by the I&B ministry had held the channel in violation of the programming code of the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015.
In a live telecast, the channel revealed the exact location of the suspected Pakistan-based terrorists involved in the attack on the Pathankot air base, the committee said in its recommendations, released by the I&B ministry last Thursday. The channel had disclosed details about the location of an ammunition depot and the place where terrorists were holed up as well as the location of a school and residential areas, as per the committee.
According to the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2015, “No programme shall be carried in the cable service which contains live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces, wherein media coverage shall be restricted to periodic briefing by an officer designated by the appropriate government till such operation concludes.”
The order, however, drew severe criticism from different media platforms and journalists across the country. The Editors Guild of India, The Broadcast Editors Association and the News Broadcasters Association had strongly condemned the decision and asked the government to reconsider the order on 4 November.
In its clarification, NDTV had said that it was singled out by the government. “Every channel and newspaper had similar coverage. In fact, NDTV’s coverage was particularly balanced. After the dark days of the emergency when the press was fettered, it is extraordinary that NDTV is being proceeded against in this manner,” the broadcaster had said in a statement.